Empowerment Starts Here

This site is dedicated to the professional and academic work of Dr. Angela Dye.

Theory in Practice

Tonight I will be hosting (with the support of Dr. Sarah Thomas) the #teacheredchat and I’ve decided to focus on “Theory in Practice” as the topic of exploration. 

I personally was introduced to the topic early on during my doctoral studies when I was required to read the book,  Theory in Practice: Increasing Professional Effectiveness by Chris Argyris and Donald Schon.

I was initially excited by the text because it was the first time I had witnessed words I had only experienced as a series of professional impressions. Noticing how others talked the talk but did not walk it was both intriguing and overwhelming. 

It was intriguing because I wondered if I was the only one who could see the gap between what was being said versus what was being done.  It’s not that I didn’t have gaps in my own practice (because I did… because I do). It is that the gap did not appear to be a recognized phenomenon. 

It was overwhelming because of my mission for social change. As a change agent, I’m acutely dialed into what is as contrasted against what could be. My ultimate aim is to get to the vision…the what could be.  Failing to recognize what is drastically distorts (in my opinion) our understanding of what is needed… increasing the likelihood (if not guaranteeing) that we will not achieve the desired results. 

So Argyris and Schon’s text, giving words to the gap and a discussion on how to close it, gave me a sigh of relief. Not only was I not the only one to see the gap, I now had that language needed to talk about closing it. And this the ammunition I need to truly promote social change!

“Failing to recognize what is drastically distorts… our understanding of what is needed.”

After completing all the course work and the comprehensive exam required to move into the dissertation phase, I found myself returning to the gap.  By this time in my studies, I knew Gloria Ladson-Billings’s work on culturally relevant instruction would serve as the pillar to my own research on student empowerment.

As I completed the required literature review for my proposal, I learned that very few people (and schools), who espouse the tenets of culturally relevant teaching, are actually practicing it. From school/district mandates that restrict practice to monocultural outcomes to lack of skill/capacity to meet the unique demands of the practice, research is proving that culturally relevant instruction is talked about more than it is done. 

“Very few people (and schools), who espoused the tenets of a culturally relevant teaching, are actually practice it.”

When I was asked to take the lead on the #teacheredchat, I was on the fence in selecting a topic. Of course, I wanted to do theory in practice . But, I also  wanted to talk about power-withing. In that the current climate seems to be almost obsessed with talking about social justice, I wanted to draw attention to instructional power dynamics by facilitating an introspection about teaching that is power-over, and, yes, even power-under… both of which violates tenets of power-withing. 

In the end, I decided on theory in practice. Because no matter what theory you espouse,  culturally relevant pedagogy, student empowerment or power-withing, you need the ability to question and see the gaps.

There are three concepts that I will draw upon in tonight’s conversation that I want to take a moment to define.

  1. Espoused Theory:  The theory in which you believe and aspire.
  • Theory in Use: The theory that your practice actually conveys.
  1. Theory in Practice: A practice that consistently executes the theory you espouse.

These are the concepts I will have in mind when I ask teacher educators to think about their role in the practice of classroom teachers. I’m curious to see what I will learn. I’m excited to see what I will inspire. And, I’m honored to see that I was included. 

Thankful to all for allowing me to be a part of the process!!
Additional Resources…

My interview with Dr. Sarah Thomas:  http://wp.me/p4MtzN-9N 

A discussion on how to recognize the gap within one’s practice: http://eshpodcast.libsyn.com/episode-4-the-case-of-critical-self-reflection 

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